Damascus is the capital and the largest city of Syria. My interest in visiting this city was because it is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world and I was curious to experience and feel the energy here. It dates back to around 6300 BC. Having had the opportunity to travel to many arab countries, I believe Damascus by far is still one of the most charming, with its old world heritage. While exploring, I felt like I stepped back into centuries ago. Within the massive walls of the old city, in the heart, lies the Umayyad Mosque. I proceeded to the ‘putting on special clothes room’, wore the baggy trench coat handed to me to cover my tattoos and entered the mosque containing the shrine that holds the body of the Prophet Mohammed’s son.
I saw weeping ladies pray in abaya’s standing behind the bars of the tombs. Engulfed around the tomb was green light, the color of Islam.
Seemingly a requisite in any Middle Eastern city was to visit the souq. Al-Hamidiyah is a long stretch of stalls with tall sun beamed ceilings, located south of the citadel. Down its principal corridor is the famous Ice-cream stall Bekdach. It contains rice as one of it ingredients and the vanilla flavor appeased my palate,as my eyes danced to the many trinkets on show. I didn’t purchase anything although quite cheap, as I have seen the same wares a million times sold all over Middle East. Remedies such as snakes, bottled colored sand, perfume in glass vases, herbs and spices, arabic clothing such different styles of hijabs. The list goes on. Grand Bazaar of Istanbul and the Khan el Khalili souk in Cairo are still my favorite with a lot more to offer.
The vibrant street scene was worth exploring and saw a young boy selling yellow chicks along side a merchant selling a vegetable cutting device. It was quite a common sight to see Syrians smoking nargileh (hookah) and playing rounds of backgammon along the streets. With a stop to the christian quarters for dinner, an early retirement was essential for the trip the next day to Palmyra.
To find Palmyra also known as Tadmor in Arabic, a road trip was taken towards North East of Damascus, into the heart of the Syrian desert.
The following are some of my images from the journey.